Sunday Sermon for November 13, 2016, the Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Readings: Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
As we come toward the end of another Church year, we are provided with readings that correspond to what will happen at the end of the world. A quick perusal of the internet yields a rich harvest of websites dedicated to telling us that we are living in the last days. What is more interesting is that they are able to quote verse after verse from the Scriptures to back up their claims.
It is fascinating to see how what is stated in the Bible is indeed taking place right before our very eyes. No one can doubt what these people are presenting, but their interpretation is not quite correct. Our Lord told us in the Gospel today to see that we are not deceived. There is no deception regarding the events that are taking place; they are real. The deception is to think either that this is the end or to think that because it is not the end we, therefore, do not need to be concerned.
Our Lady promised that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph and there would be a long period of peace and growth for the Church. We have not seen this as yet. This is why I am personally convinced that we are living in a time which is going to serve as a foreshadowing of the end times.
If this is the case, then many of the Scripture passages regarding the end will also have a fulfillment in our day. Now that we are into the months leading up to the one hundredth anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima and the Year of Mercy is about to end, it makes me wonder if we are about to enter into the time of justice about which St. Faustina spoke.
If there is anything to what has just been written, the we can expect to see some extraordinary things beginning to happen. Our Lord speaks of persecutions and martyrdom. We spoke of this last week and we are already seeing this happening around the world. Things will get very bad for the Church and for those who are faithful to our Lord. We have to follow the example of St. Paul who tells us to imitate him in living in an orderly fashion and working quietly.
This is not going to keep us from being persecuted, as it did not keep St. Paul from being persecuted. But our goal is not to avoid trouble; our goal is to become Saints. God will use all of the difficulties to help us to grow in virtue. We have to learn very quickly that we cannot trust in ourselves or in our own strength. We must learn to rely solely on the grace of God.
There is no need to be afraid because God is in control. As long as we have complete faith and trust in the Lord, we can be at peace, even if everything around us is thrown into chaos. In two weeks we are going to be celebrating Christ the King. There is a reason the Church moved this feast to the last Sunday of the Church year. As long as we remain with our Lady and our Lord, we do not have to fear. If we try to strike out on our own because they are not doing things the way we think they ought to be done, then we will find ourselves in some very serious trouble.
But if we cooperate with the grace of God and remain faithful, then we are promised in the first reading that we will see the sun of justice with his healing rays. The Sun of Justice is none other than Jesus Himself. Now if Scripture speaks of this sun rising, it implies that it is going to be a time which is very dark. Our world is fast approaching this point. The irony is that we think we are so enlightened.
God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah and condemned those who call good evil and evil good. We live in such a time, which means we have to be very careful not to give in to the prevailing cultural mores. God is allowing us to be tested to find out whether or not we are going to remain faithful. It is not that He needs to know, because He already does know. The testing demonstrates to us just how weak or strong we might be.
As we sink deeper into the darkness as a Church and as a world, we have to be light for others, even if they have chosen darkness. There is too much ignorance of the truth to think that the majority of the people are malicious. Be a light shining in the darkness and to bring others to Christ.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.